The Family Court system is a major influence in the lives of poor families. Research in this setting reveals important linkages between social inequality, cultural contact between native-born and immigrant populations, and family well-being. On the one hand, Family Court involvement can open considerable resources to families in crisis; on the other hand, manifestations of social inequalities in family life, such as homelessness or substance abuse, are often reasons why Family Court involvement is compelled in the first place. While over-representation of low-income families of color in Family Court has been documented nationwide for decades, scholars have paid relatively little attention to the rising number of Latino families in the system and their experiences.
Building on previous research, Vikki Katz will study Latino families in which parents are facing allegations of child abuse or neglect in the Bronx Family Court (BFC). Through an ethnographic study, Katz aims to examine within families and within the Court system factors to explain how immigration generation influences how parents and children manage their relationships with BFC actors over time, the kinds of strategies they develop and deploy to manage their Family Court interactions, and how they position themselves in relation to Family Court values and requirements. Based on ongoing extensive observations and interviews with parents, children and various BFC actors, Katz will identify up to ten families for case studies. She will analyze these families’ movement through the system from as many perspectives as possible.